Adam Oates thinks the lockout is behind yet another phenomenon of the shortened NHL season, an increase in delay-of-game penalties from players firing the puck over the glass.
When it was brought up by reporters during Oates’s media scrum Monday, the Washington Capitals’ head coach said he noticed the same thing. For example, Pittsburgh Penguins defenceman Simon Despres was given one during Sunday’s 6-3 win over the Capitals when his attempt to relieve pressure from the Caps saw the puck clear the glass and draw a whistle.
Too many players are not in top condition because they only had a week-long training camp, Oates said, so they tire faster and are more likely to try and flip the puck off the glass rather than look for a pass or carry the puck out of danger. At the same time, their skills are not quite as sharp as normal because of the lockout layoff and the puck is more likely to go astray.
“Look how many there are and you guys are noticing it,” Oates said. “It’s out of the ordinary and why is that? It’s because guys are not as sharp as they would if we had a [normal] camp.
“It’s fatigue and you go to put it in a certain spot and you mishandle it or it bobbles or you chili-dip it, whatever you call it. I look at it every night and see it in every game.”
A chili-dip, by the way, is when a player doesn’t get a clean shot or pass away and the puck flips end-over-end and, Oates added with a smile, “I never did it.”
Oates said he doesn’t mind if the referees still take a zero-tolerance approach to the penalty, with no allowances for players’ sharpness, but only if they call them all.
“If they get it right I’m happy,” he said. “Like they missed one [on the Penguins] that clearly went out. It’s a big momentum-swing. A lot of those things are momentum-penalties, like we’re pressing them and the guy flips it out because he’s tired. So you can’t miss that call. It’s a frustrating thing.”